Sheffield Castle, Park, and Manor Lodge — David Templeton — 23rd November 2015.

I am sure many of our read­ers ‚being born and bred Sheffield and Yorkshire men, are well acquain­ted  with the his­tory of Sheffield, but as I hail from the illus­tri­ous county of Lancashire, I will do my best to “take coals to Newcastle” and inform you of your  local his­tory!

Sheffield Castle:   In its heyday Sheffield Castle was the 4th largest castle in England. Excavations have revealed that an Anglo-Saxon long house was first built on the site fol­lowed by a Motte and Bailey castle con­struc­ted shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066 and was attrib­uted to William de Lovetot.  This was burnt down in 1266 during the Barons’ Uprising, and a stone castle built in 1270.

The Sheffield Castle
The Sheffield Castle

The most famous name asso­ci­ated with the castle  was  Mary Queen of Scots, (poor soul had a rough time of it , not much fun spend­ing 14 years there !!) She was there from 1570 to 1584 and called it the “most hated prison she had been in “, as it was built in an area which was fre­quently flooded and all the sewage and stench from the rivers of Sheaf and Don accu­mu­lated out­side the castle walls.  (Obviously the build­ers of the castle didn’t have the bene­fit of watch­ing Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs).

The castle covered four acres in area, being larger than Warwick Castle.  Maud de Lovetot, grand­daugh­ter of William, mar­ried Gerard de Furnival in 1204 and the castle and town passed to the Furnival family and roy­al­ists.  In 1266 anti-monarchy barons cap­tured and burnt down the castle.  In 1270 Thomas de Furnival, grand­son of Gerard, built a new stone  castle which exten­ded from the River Sheaf to Waingate and from the Don to Dixon Lane.  A park was attached to the castle which exten­ded to Gleadless in the south and Handsworth in the east.  In 1516 George Talbot built an altern­at­ive res­id­ence in the park called Sheffield Manor.

Destruction of the Castle.  In October 1642, during the English Civil War, the town and castle were seized by John Gell for the Parliamentarians.  Things, how­ever, changed in 1643 when 8000 Royalists took Rotherham and ran­sacked the town. The Parliamentarian defend­ers of the castle fled and the Royalists took con­trol leav­ing the castle under the con­trol of William Saville with his wife Margaret. In 1644 the castle came under the con­trol of Thomas Beaumont when 1200 Parliamentarians, led by Major General Crawford, were sent to recap­ture the castle.   The castle put up huge res­ist­ance but even­tu­ally it fell because of the extra-large can­nons, brought in spe­cially, which were able to breach the castle walls. Lady Margaret Saville, though preg­nant, fiercely defen­ded the castle and gave birth the night the castle sur­rendered. The castle was badly dam­aged by the siege and in 1647 the House of Commons passed a res­ol­u­tion for the castle to be demol­ished.  The Earl of Arundel repur­chased it with the inten­tion of restor­ing it but the damage was too great and the castle was razed to the ground before being built over.  Archaeological excav­a­tions in 1927, by Leslie Armstrong, uncovered the base of the bas­tion towers and part of the gate­way.  In 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund was approached with a view to rebuild­ing the towers and draw­bridge cre­at­ing a her­it­age park at the cost of five mil­lion pounds but unfor­tu­nately the bid was not approved.

Sheffield Park :   This was cre­ated next to the castle and was bigger than Richmond Park and accom­mod­ated three thou­sand head of deer.  There was an avenue of walnut trees and wooded areas known as Holly Haggs for the deer to shel­ter in.  The deer were enclosed by stone walls, topped with cleft oak fen­cing.  Wild deer were cap­tured in the park by “park and pale” – this was a device where the deer jumped over a low wall beyond which was a large ditch.  Once on the other side the deer couldn’t escape due to the height of the wall. The noble­men hunted deer out­side the Park with fero­cious dogs, known as Talbot Hounds, chas­ing them until they dropped with exhaus­tion and then the hunter would put the deer out of its misery by run­ning it through with his sword and cut off its head for a trophy. The deer in the Park, on the other hand were kept for ven­ison and when required ser­vants would catch them by using nets and then des­patch them with an arrow.

Manor Lodge:   In 1516 George Talbot built Manor Lodge as a hunt­ing lodge in SheffieldPark.

The Sheffield Manor Lodge.
The Sheffield Manor Lodge.

It was richly dec­or­ated and com­plete with a ban­quet­ing room which is still as it was when Mary Queen of Scots was

Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary Queen of Scots.

imprisoned there. Much of the build­ings includ­ing the long gal­lery have been demol­ished.  Bess of Hardwick remod­elled the Manor House and a gate­house, built of brick with twin octa­gonal towers, was the most impress­ive of these devel­op­ments.  In 1709 many of the remain­ing build­ings were demol­ished and the build­ing mater­i­als carted away and sold to locals.  The com­plex was con­ver­ted to barns, farm build­ings and a coal mine excav­ated. By the 1800’s there was little to remind people of the former grandeur of Manor Lodge.  Local farm­ers, cut­lers and coal miners trans­formed it into a self-contained hamlet with shops, a chapel and a beer house (Norfolk Arms).  By the 1890’s the cot­tages were in ruins and the col­li­ery closed and in 1900 all the post-16C build­ings were demol­ished and the site cleared.

Mr. Templeton was very dis­ap­poin­ted that the  Heritage Bid put in by the Sheffield City Council for fund­ing for the castle had failed. He said that many arte­facts found pre­vi­ously had been in stor­age and not avail­able for public view­ing.  It was an inter­est­ing and inform­at­ive present­a­tion and it was enjoyed and appre­ci­ated by all.